NEWS: Pax Christi USA releases annual report for 2015

Below is the letter from our Executive Director Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, which opens the 2015 Annual Report. To see the entire 2015 Annual Report, click here

Sr. Patty ChappellDear Friends of Peace & Justice-the Pax Christi USA Family,

As your Executive Director, I am pleased to submit this Annual Report to you as a summary of our 2015 activity. I am especially pleased, on behalf of the National Council and staff, to tell you that we had a very, very good year.

Pax Christi USA logoIn past Annual Reports I have, unfortunately, had to tell you of difficult times we faced financially, which, of course, had impact programmatically because we weren’t able to do things we had hoped to do. My goal in 2015 was to reverse this trend and I am pleased to tell you that in 2015 we began the process of stabilizing our finances to such an extent that we have gone from a deficit budget to a small surplus – in just one year. This has allowed us to concentrate more on being a leader in the effort to bring peace with justice to our country and the world, always with our work centered in Catholic Social Teaching.

Here are some of the highlights of our year:

  • From a fundraising perspective, we have begun to put systems in place for raising the money we need to be more effective. In 2015, for example, we budgeted to raise $8.52 and in fact raised $134,668.28 – a 100% revenue over expenses. We did that by becoming much more intentional in communicating with our donors, especially our Major Donors, and by asking them to support us at higher levels. We began to emphasize Membership as a central way to mobilize and fund our organization. For our members, we budgeted to raise $76,675. In fact we raised $105,957. In FY2014 we had 3,671 members and in FY 2015, we have 3,855 members and our membership continues to see signs of growth.
  • We completely retired our debt to Pax Christi International. We are proud members of Pax Christi International and know that we must support them with our monthly assessment. As of result of financial restraints in the past, we had fallen behind on our assessment to the tune of $75,000. Thanks to the generosity of one of our major donors, we completely paid off what we owed to our International Office.
  • We called or visited every single major donor to the organization. I personally flew to the Midwest to meet with several of our donors and all of them increased their already generous gifts to Pax Christi USA.
  • We were advised to send our direct mail appeals to people who had supported us in the past but had stopped supporting us. This raised the number of year-end appeal letters we sent out from 3,617 to 9,000. I am pleased to tell you that for the Christmas appeal, for which we expected $25,000, we actually raised $46,467 and we expect even more to come in from that appeal in January.
  • Much of this success also was due to stabilizing our databases. We now know who our friends are and are able to better communicate with them.

This financial stability progress has resulted in remedying a situation we have desperately needed to for some time. We are able in 2016 to again have all our full-time employees working 40 hour weeks and we are able to provide a stipend for health insurance. Pax Christi USA needs a full-time staff. Once again, now, we are almost there.

Our work in the financial area is not done however. We still need to improve in some areas and I commit to you that we will do this in 2016 to further take us on the road to stability.

We have had a good year together my friends. And the future is looking brighter than ever thanks to the fabulous National Council you have assembled under the leadership of Cathy Woodson and the great staff that can once again give its full attention to our work. Look in 2016 for several new initiatives from the council, including taking a harder look at our structure to make us all more effective, and the national office providing more service to our regional offices and local chapters.

We look forward to continuing our work together to one day see that goal of a peaceful and just world realized.

With gratitude and hope,

Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
Executive Director

Click here to read the entire 2015 Annual Report.

REFLECTION: You are to be my witnesses

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

I really did read those letters from all of you and I found them very inspiring because you seem to understand what’s really important about the Sacrament of Confirmation, that you are committing yourself now for the rest of your life to continue to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, baptized, confirmed, strengthened regularly by the Holy Eucharist and also by your own daily prayer. Each of you seem to find that an important thing to include, that you have come to know Jesus better through your preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. I do have that sense that you’re truly ready, but it’s important that we reflect a little bit further on the Scriptures and on this feast that we’re celebrating, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven.

pskovpecheryascensioniconThe first thing that I think is important about the feast day and what we are being taught about the feast day is not exactly when the Ascension happened. It’s important for all of us to realize that the Gospels are not a history book. They don’t follow the life of Jesus like we might do if we were writing history, or even if we were writing a biography of Jesus. But the Gospels do, and the other New Testament Scriptures like the letters of Paul and so on, teach us about Jesus — who he is, why he came, what he did. They don’t try to give us a chronological teaching about his life. In fact, if you listen to the Gospels carefully, you’ll discover, when you listen to the Gospel of John about Easter Sunday, when Jesus came back to the disciples Easter Sunday night, it was then that he breathed on them, gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then left them for good.

It wasn’t 40 days later. Luke puts that into his Acts of the Apostles because in the early days of the church, the Christians thought Jesus was going to come back very quickly and that he would restore the reign of God in its fullness; but it wasn’t going to happen. By the time Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles in the 80s, it was pretty clear that Jesus wasn’t coming back anytime soon. And so, Luke puts into the Acts of the Apostles the story about how they gathered together outside of Jerusalem and then he’s lifted up to heaven. The angels come down and tell the disciples, “What are you looking up there for? He’s gone.” That wasn’t how it really happened, but the important thing is what we learn in one of the letters of St. Paul about what this meant.

What happened is described in this letter of Paul to the church at Ephesus. He tells us, “God revealed God’s almighty power in Jesus when he raised Jesus from the dead and had him sit at his right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other super natural force that could be named, not only in this world, but in the world to come. Thus God has put all things under the feet of Christ, set him above all things as head of the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”...

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TEACHER OF PEACE: Nominees announced for 2016 Teacher of Peace Award

Teachers of PeaceThis year, eighteen individuals were nominated to receive the Pax Christi USA 2016 Teacher of Peace Award.

Each year, Pax Christi USA honors an outstanding peacemaker in the tradition of Sr. Thea Bowman, Dan Berrigan, Cesar Chávez, Dianna Ortiz, Dorothy Day, Ray East, Bishop Gumbleton, and Pope Paul VI. This award recognizes women and men whose lives and work exemplify the theme of Pope Paul VI’s World Day of Peace message, “To reach peace, teach peace.”

“Everyone who was nominated this year was an excellent candidate and had compelling reasons to be chosen as this year’s Teacher of Peace,” stated Johnny Zokovitch, Pax Christi USA Director of Communications and a member of the Teacher of Peace nominations committee.  “It’s always difficult to choose a single person when each one, in her or his own unique way, is living out the call to gospel nonviolence in witness to the peace of Christ. Each of the nominees is really a Teacher of Peace.”

The Pax Christi USA National Council, following consultation with the Nominations Committee, makes the final decision regarding this year’s Teacher of Peace. Later this week, the 2016 Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace will be announced. This year’s recipient will receive the award at Pax Christi USA’s national gathering to be held in Linthicum, MD in August.

Following is a list of this year’s nominees (listed in alphabetical order):

  • David Atwood
  • Rose Marie Berger
  • Fr. John Dear
  • Sr. Jean Fallon
  • Fr. Seamus Finn
  • Martha Hennessy
  • Patrick Kennelly
  • Art Laffin
  • Bishop Robert McElroy
  • Matthew Marshall
  • Jane Morrissey
  • Sr. Kay O’Neill
  • Sr. Jamie Phelps
  • Deacon Jim Rauner
  • Sr. Megan Rice
  • Fr. Richard Rohr
  • Bishop Peter Rosazza
  • Timothy Stiven

Pax Christi USA congratulates each of the nominees and gives thanks for their work on behalf of peace with justice.

REFLECTION: ‘Get on board or get out of the way’ is not policy

Joan Chittister, osbby Joan Chittister, osb
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

At this point in the history of this country, the tangle between the two major dimensions of our public life — the political system itself and the politicians it spawns — is impossible to ignore. In fact, the choices we make this year — and why we make them — may well affect this country and its present governmental system for ages to come. I figure that those whose responsibility it is to make the final decisions on social policy will do so out of a sense of commitment to all the people of the world.

It may sound easy but it isn’t.

election2016button225We all have the right and the responsibility to participate in this moment of national decision about who we are and who we want to be. The question is, of course, on what grounds will we make this decision?

I watched one of the chief politicians of the country do something very unpolitical recently. And by doing so, he follows in the footsteps of great American politicians over time who chose personal integrity over political conformity: The ones who called for independence from English rule. The ones who declared freedom of religion a human right. The ones who broke with politicians who supported slavery. The ones who confronted both church and state about the legal rights of women. The ones who argued against exclusionary immigration policies. The ones who supported the union movement. The ones who contested the Vietnam War. All of these things — and many more — have shaped the character of this country.

We may be at a similar point again. In which case, why we do what we do will make all the difference...

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REFLECTION: We have to listen to the Spirit

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

As we try to listen deeply now to the Scripture lessons and draw from them guidance for our everyday life, I think it’s important, especially from the Gospel, to hear Jesus telling us, “I’ve told you all this while I was still with you.” Remember again, he’s in conversation with his disciples the night before he dies. But then he says, “From now on, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom God will send in my name, will continue to teach you all things and remind you of what I have told you.”

We’ve heard that before, and I think probably we don’t really give enough attention to this promise of Jesus, that he’s going to send his Holy Spirit to be with us, to guide us. But when you think about it, it’s really important that he do that because if you notice in the Scriptures, Jesus doesn’t give the disciples any blueprint about how to follow up on his teachings. He doesn’t tell them how to establish a church, what they are to do.

1432075456212All he says is, “You’ve received the Holy Spirit. Go and proclaim the good news to all the nations.” He’s telling them, “Go out and preach the good news that I’ve been teaching you.” But there will be times when they will need special guidance. Of course, one of those times came very early in the church. It’s what we heard about in the first lesson today. The apostle Paul and Barnabas had made a missionary journey into Asia Minor, where would be Turkey, Syria — those countries, and they had great success.

In town after town they went into the synagogues, they preached about Jesus, and people wanted to be baptized, wanted to become followers of Jesus. These were Gentiles. Back in Jerusalem where the church first began to function, all the disciples of Jesus who became his followers — the Christian church, were Jews, and they still followed the Jewish practices. Now Paul and Barnabas were going out and saying, “That’s not necessary any longer. You don’t have to be circumcised. You don’t have to follow the 613 laws of the Jewish covenant. You’re free of that. You’re followers of Jesus.”...

To read the entire article, click here.

NEWS: A change on the National Staff at Pax Christi USA

Sr. Patty Chappellfrom Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

Dear Companions on the Journey,

It is with a heart filled with mixed emotions that I announce to you that I have accepted Johnny Zokovitch’s letter of resignation from Pax Christi USA, effective June 6, 2016.

Johnny taking photos at the Pax Christi USA prayer service at the MLK Center in Atlanta in 2013.

Johnny taking photos at the PCUSA prayer service at the MLK Center in Atlanta in 2013.

For the past 15 years Johnny has served PCUSA with fidelity and steadfastness and has helped provide the historical memory of our organization. We all know of Johnny’s professional and personal commitment to all, whether we be individual members, National Staff, National Council and to countless individuals and groups that he has met along the way. He has been the public face for us on the website both in front and behind the scenes. We can never fully express our gratitude to Johnny for all that he has been and done for PCUSA.

In leaving Pax Christi USA, Johnny states in his letter that “this new phase of my life will take place with Pax Christi International … [spending] up to 6 months in Brussels each year while also relocating and spending the rest of my time in Washington, D.C. …”

In the midst of our gratitude, we are also excited for him about this new chapter in his life, one that no doubt will include travel and new experiences along with personal and professional growth opportunities. While we are saddened to see him leave, our prayer for Johnny is “that God will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun … and hold you in the palm of God’s hand.”

With utmost gratitude and best wishes for all that lies ahead,

Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
Executive Director